This month we’re going to look at collocations with finger followed by a noun. Here is the list produced by COCA ( As usual, all examples are taken from that corpus:

As you can see, the most common collocation is Finger Lakes, an area in New York State which is well-known for its wineries. The picture below shows clearly why these lakes are called what they are.
  • The leap in quality in the last decade of Finger Lakes wines has been wonderful to behold.
  • …because it’s only a four-hour drive from New York City, the Finger Lakes area is my unheralded but worthy choice.


The next collocations, finger food(s) and finger sandwiches refer to food that you can eat with your fingers:
  • You want finger food, things like pickles, raspberries, cookies. 
  • The chef had created an entire menu of bite-sized finger foods like ladyfingers and mini-quiches.
  • Traditional tea, which includes an assortment of finger sandwiches and mini-pastries, is offered at $27 per person.
We can group finger painting with finger paint and finger paints
  • This is the ideal spot for lazy Friday mornings, the equivalent of Sundays in the United States, with a jazz brunch and finger painting for children.
  • Do a little finger painting in this area while it is still wet.
  • Let your child go wild with the finger paint on a sheet of shiny white paper.
  • These programs are the electronic equivalent of finger paints, crayons, and chemistry sets.


Here is a very easy one:
  • She kisses her finger tips and puts her hand flat against the window pane.




This collocation is also used in an expression (to have something) at one’s finger tips, meaning that it is easily and promptly available:
  • Summer Wesson is one of the casting directors who has, at her finger tips, an unlimited database.
  • And there’s much more health information at your finger tips.


The next ones are exactly what you think they are:
  • …and for every letter in braille, there are a number of finger movements that must be correctly coordinated. 
  • … many older people have difficulty with finger movements because of arthritis.


  • I didn’t notice her long finger nails.
  • And it wasn’t just one cut. There were others made by finger nails, Petrocelli argued, as Simpson’s victims fought for their lives.
  • She had scratches and finger marks on her arms, and a glacial expression on her face.
  • There was blood all the way to the ceiling with finger marks like they were trying to crawl out of the room.


Look at this metaphorical use of finger marks:
Here’s some anatomy now:
  • She proved to be a tireless gardener (her delicate finger joints protected from the dirt by leather gloves). 
  • One of my finger joints is already red and swollen from a careless catch I made during warm-ups. 
  • Also, if the broken finger bones are near the joints, the joints may become stiff due to the swelling.


Finger joints and finger bones


But finger joints can mean something  totally different when used in relation to cabinetmaking:

A finger joint, also known as a comb or box joint, is a woodworking joint made by cutting a set of complementary rectangular cuts in two pieces of wood, which are then glued. To visualize a finger joint simply interlock the fingers of your hands at a ninety degree angle; hence the name “finger joint.” (


  • In protest, he built a cabinet of fancy woods and finger joints.

The following example refers to a crime scene. In this context, print means fingerprints and finger ridges are the curved lines in the finger prints: 

  • I took out my kit containing the two kinds of fine powder that would make invisible prints appear: black and gray. I used the gray powder on dark surfaces, and the black powder on light ones. Print after print appeared, most smudged and partial, but a few were complete, with each finger ridge delineated.


All the examples for finger blades are from two movies: Freddy vs Jason (2003) and Freddy’s dead (1991)
  • He plunges his finger blades straight down into Jason’s chest.
  • Krueger yanks his finger blades out and Jacob’s limp body falls at Karen’s feet.


Our list shows the collocation finger puppets but there are also hand puppets::
  • School-aged kids can make these finger puppets to entertain toddlers and preschoolers.
  • She’d had all five of her Red Riding Hood finger puppets on one hand.
Finger puppets                                            Hand puppets

If you’d like to play a trick on a friend, try this finger trap:
  • She holds her hands aloft, fingers still ensnared in the ancient finger trap.
  • Biologists are discovering that bacteria can cling to your cells much the way a ” finger trap “ grasps your finger.
The last one is pretty easy and can be used in various contexts. In music, for example: 
  • When the instrument is more than a simple tube, such as a flute with finger holes, the player can manipulate the size of the air column by covering or uncovering the finger holes.
While you don’t put your finger inside a finger hole in a music instrument, you do place your  finger inside the finger holes in a telephone dial or a bowling ball:
  • Now she stands naked in the thick darkness, feeling for the finger holes in the phone dial.
  • “I end up with pains in my back and legs,” says the native of Mexico, who sometimes makes up to $50 a night in tips (sent to him in the finger holes of bowling balls) on top of his $5.15 an-hour wage.
                                     Phone dial                                  Bowling ball                   
I guess that is it for now. Hope you learned some useful collocations.
See you next month!
Stella E. O. Tagnin professora associada do Departamento de Letras Modernas, FFLCH, da USP. Embora aposentada, continua orientando em nível de pós-graduação nas áreas de Tradução, Terminologia, Ensino e Aprendizagem, sempre com base na Lingüística de Corpus. É coordenadora do Projeto CoMET.e-mail: